What are you playing this week? I feel like the entire world's been playing either Baldur's Gate 3 or Starfield for an eternity. The most unhinged among us – not least GR+'s own Heather Wald – are playing both. At the same time. And that breaks my brain a little. Me? I've been star-bound with Bethesda's galaxy-spanning space opera, but I must admit hearing outlandish tales of wooing octopus-headed weirdos, short kings kissing demon ladies, and being terribly, horribly, unreasonably wicked in Larian's D&D-inspired high fantasy fiefdoms has made me a wee bit jealous.
With so many neat and knowledgeable tales having already been shared among the GamesRadar+ staff, I had a good think about how I'd like to approach Baldur's Gate 3, given I've now finally carved out some time to dive in. And so I'd love to tell you that being a total prick to everyone I've spoken to in the Forgotten Realms has brought me shame. But it hasn't. Truth be told, I've loved every fucking minute of it.
As you'll have gleaned from the headline above: I'm late to the Baldur's Gate 3 party, so I've decided to ruin that party by being an absolute bastard to everyone I meet.
Sink your teeth
"What, so you didn't create your own character?" was the first question I was asked when I shared my plans with the wider GR+ team. I mean, I could have crafted an avatar from scratch, but given the game's Origins characters come with prerequisite baggage and personality flaws from the off, opting for an existing Baldur's Gate native made more sense to me. The Dark Urge was surely the most twisted of the outset options, but their mention of walking paths "paved with blood", and the fact that they're drawn to "unimaginable cruelties" felt a wee bit too far gone – even for me and what I was trying to achieve. Karlach actor Samantha Béart's "burn everything to the ground"-inspired approach definitely sounded appealing, but my primary goal wasn't to kill everything that moves, it was simply to act like a dickhead and piss everyone off.
Astarion, I decided, fit that bill perfectly: "Astarion prowled the night as a vampire spawn for centuries, serving a sadistic master until he was snatched away. Now he can walk in the light, but can he leave his wicked past behind?"
From here, the rules were simple: whenever presented with dialogue options, I'd choose the most offensive and inappropriate replies and actions. Things started out pretty tame, like when Lae'zel seemed really pleased that I wasn't a Thrall on our first encounter during the game's opening stretch. She spoke of joining forces to survive, and that some ancient-sounding god might have blessed her. I simply responded with, "Who are you?", in the hope she might take the hint and piss off and annoy somebody else. Turns out there was no one else, and so I was forced to suffer her hyperbolic banter until the malfunctioning alien ship we were on crash-landed on some beach or other.
Things got a little spicier on dry land. Like when I discovered Shadowheart pining for an ASBO while incessantly battering a wooden door with her fists and making a right hoo-ha. Moments before, I'd decided I was after "some prey to sup on", but she was making so much of a racket that I felt inclined to search elsewhere.
"You – you've got the same thing I do, in your head. I felt it," said Shadowheart, in reference to the mind flayer beasties that had indeed set up shop in our brains. "I didn't feel a thing. No idea what you're talking about," I replied in a bid to kill the conversation. This was clearly going to be a whole thing. "These things are going to consume us from the inside and turn us into mind flayers," she said in return. "Calm down. We escaped – we survived. There's no need for dramatics," I said.
Later in the conversation, I told Shadowheart to stop banging the door like a police officer hunting a prison escapee.
Shadowheart: "But I've barely put a dent in it."
Me: "What you're making is a racket. The noise is bound to attract attention."
Then Shadowheart fired off some cheeky remark about how she'd killed loads of folk and that I might do well to do the same. Blah, blah, blah, stop showing off, I thought to myself. She then began heading for higher ground as a means of getting past the locked door, and, with her insolence still playing on my mind, I broke my own rules and offered her a fight on the spot because I was so pissed off.
Lesson learned, I guess. I reloaded and let my noisy neighbour off the hook with her snideness. I then wandered up the same hill myself and found a glowing purple vortex with someone's arm poking through from the other side. Listen, I perfectly understand that this is a fantasy game. It's not real, it's all make believe. But imagine this happened to you in real life. Are you trying to tell me you'd help this guy out? Come on. You'd run in the opposite direction, wouldn't you? Of course you would. If this clown can get himself into this situation, then he can get himself out too.
Gale: "A hand, anyone?"
Me: *Slap the hand*
Gale: "Ow! Perhaps I should have clarified. A helping hand, anyone?"
Me: *With a keen but calculated twist, you attempt to sabotage the sigil*
Despite my attempts to the contrary, Gale did indeed climb out of the ethereal hole. Urgh, I can just tell this guy's going to be a total pain in the arse.
Gale: "Say, but I know you, don't I? In a manner of speaking. You were on the nautiloid [the crash-landed ship from before] as well."
1. I was, yes.
2. Never mind the nautiloid. How did you get stuck in that stone?
3. You don't trust this man. Draw your weapon.
It's option 3 all day, I'm sorry. Screw this guy.
Gale: Woah – easy does it. You really, really don't want to do that. Not a threat, just an observation.
1. Sheathe your weapon
2. And why would I really, really not want to attack you?
It's 3 again. Obviously.
At this point I was told that Gale was now apparently half-dead and that I'd ostensibly blown a hole in the space-time continuum and I couldn't actually progress the game's overarching story while this man remained banished from the land of the living. Gale tried to explain himself but I wasn't having it. "I'm starting to think you're better off dead," I told him, while complaining that his whole shtick was ridiculously elaborate.
Gale: "I'm not trying to try your patience, I simply need to be absolutely certain you understand (the importance of him being resurrected)."
Me: "Unsommon yourself, Gale. Before I find a way to kill you twice."
Screw you, Gale. See you never.
Pride comes before a fall
Later on – with me and my smart-mouthed Astarion now well into the swing of being a total dick to all creatures big and small – I cross paths with a cheeky wee sod named Grimblebock. Acting tough alongside his buddy, the fiery gnome told me that despite being twice as tall as him, I only had "half the bloody back bone" as he. But I was in the zone. I was given the option to attack, but I didn't need it. I simply stood my ground and shot him a thousand-yard stare.
"Just grin, baring your fangs."
Which caused Grimblebock and his silent pal to hightail it in the opposite direction. What a yellow bellied bastard.
This exchange was what it was all about. It was what I envisioned when I set out to ruin the proverbial Baldur's Gate 3 party. It was also the moment that marked the beginning of my downfall. Because while you'll read about the best Baldur's Gate 3 builds, companion configurations, and stat allocations in order to progress the game in the most efficient manner, I spent so much time in the earliest stages of Act 1 striving to be a tosser to as many people as possible that I didn't give combat, well, any thought whatsoever. And so when I found myself trapped in some cave network beneath the very chapel grounds I had scared the bejesus out of little Grimblebock, and when I happened upon a horde of hostile magical guardian skeleton soldiers, I quickly realized that I was, to put it bluntly, absolutely fucked.
How do you intimidate a skeleton? How do you test the patience or hurt the feelings of a being that harbors neither? How do you engage a group of hostile aggressors in a debate or heated war of words when the bastards don't even have tongues? The answer is: you don't. Instead, you get chased and slaughtered time and time and time again. There is no plan B in this instance. You're left grinning, bearing your fangs, filled with regret, and cowering in a corner having been force fed a healthy dose of your own medicine.
Being on the receiving end isn't fun, it seems. No wonder everyone was so pissed off with me. But, hey, being the bastard of Baldur's Gate 3 was fun while it lasted.
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